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Lessenberry: Absentee voting would benefit democracy


Election Day is just under a month away.

But Michigan Radio political commentator Jack Lessenberry has already voted – at his kitchen table, with an absentee ballot.

Lessenberry feels democracy would be better served if everyone could vote absentee.

He says there are often many names and races on the ballot, and that voters may not have a lot of information about the candidates or issues.

“We have some statistics showing that people who vote absentee tend to do more homework and vote for more of these races,” Lessenberry says.

Lessenberry says the best way would be a system in which everyone votes by mail – a trend that is catching on in western states, including Oregon and Washington.

Lessenberry says online voting may be more susceptible to tampering.

He says Republicans in the Legislature haven't been excited about the prospect of early voting because they want to keep turnout low. Statistics have shown that as more people vote, Democrats traditionally do better. Lessenberry believes that's why absentee voting in Michigan is more difficult than in other states. 

If you're interested in absentee voting, here's some information from the Michigan Secretary of State's office: 

As a registered voter, you may obtain an absent voter ballot if you are:

  • age 60 years old or older
  • unable to vote without assistance at the polls
  • expecting to be out of town on election day
  • in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
  • unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
  • appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
A person who registers to vote by mail must vote in person in the first election in which he or she participates (unless they are age 60 or older.)

Listen to the full interview with Jack Lessenberry above.

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